Tag Archives | Science Fiction

Pibijé: My Recipe, My Adventure

I discovered this recipe when I was journeying through the Eiglophian mountains of northern Cimmeria. Winter had come early, and the cold wind bit like a knife through my all-too-thin cloak. A red glow in the west told me that dusk would soon be upon me, and my chances of reaching my intended destination, the small mountain village of Sparnuota Mirtis, before nightfall were clearly going to be slim.

I looked about for a place of shelter among the steep and cragged rocks, and initially had little luck. But then fortune favoured me, or so it seemed, for by and by I glimpsed a dark cleft ahead, slightly to the left of the rather rudimentary gravel trail I had been following since the morning. Scrabbling over shattered granite, I found myself at the entrance to a small cave – a welcome spot of shelter for the night.

Welcome, at least, so long as it was unclaimed and uncontested; for I knew well that snow leopards haunted these heights, and I had no desire to face the fierce jaws and talons of one of those swift and powerful beasts. Lighting the elvenlight that had been gifted to me by Lady Fafine Valea at the gates of the faery palace of Sloc Boglach, back in what now seemed an eternity ago, I proceeded cautiously, but saw no signs of prior occupancy.

As I walked farther into the recesses of the cave, however, the walls began to assume the regular angles of masonry rather than the haphazard ruggedness of nature, and I began to suspect that this tunnel had been hewn not by the random violence of the mountain but by the craft of men. My suspicions were confirmed by what seemed to be a doorway at the very end of the cavern, marked with strange runes that ….

[1254 pages later]

… as I climbed hastily up the ladder, for below me I could hear the angry shrieks of the lizard men growing closer. Risking a glance behind me, I saw the entire vast underground city of Lai Koht Teel, still lit by the eerie pale lichen that graced the high-arched ceiling, begin to crumble to dust, its lacy towers cracking and splintering like ice in spring. At last I reached the promised Night Door, and vaulting upward through it I slammed the portal behind me. I found myself in another tunnel much like the one I had entered a year ago, though in this instance the door lay upon the floor rather than being built into the wall. Seeing a large boulder near the door, I not without great effort rolled it onto the door. Soon I could hear the threatening scraping of the lizard men’s claws beneath the door as they hissed in frustration, but they lacked the strength and leverage to dislodge the rock, and at length their sounds faded, as they no doubt returned to the ruins of the fair city that I had, partly through intention and partly through inadvertence, so utterly destroyed.

I made my way to the cave’s mouth and saw the dark forests of Nordheim below me in the morning light, stretching to a far and misty northern horizon, for I had emerged on the other side of the mountains. The gems I had gathered in the great Treasury had been dropped in my flight, so that the only wealth I was able to take away with me from my adventure was my memory of the fabulous meal of Pibijé on which I had dined with the High Priest and Priestess of Fahadalana on the terrace of their lofty stone temple, jutting out over the turbulent subterranean sea as leather-winged zenido birds wheeled cawing overhead. Fortunately, I had committed the recipe to memory, and I am happy to share it with you on my recipe blog today.

Pibijé recipe:

1. 2 slices of bread
2. Some jelly
3. Some peanut butter
4. Some regular butter (optional)
5. Some skulls of your enemies (optional)

Spread regular butter (optional) and peanut butter on one slice.
Spread jelly on the other.
Place the first slice, peanut butter side down, on top of the second slice, jelly side up.

Garnish with skulls of your enemies (optional).

Serve.


Secrets of the Musketeers

[cross-posted at POT and Facebook]

Why is it called “The Three Musketeers” rather than “The Four Musketeers”? Was Alexandre Dumas really the author? Was Auguste Maquet the author? Was the novel based on real people and events? Was it based on a previous novel by somebody else? Were there any sequels or spinoffs? Do all the existing translations suck? Was Dumas racist against blacks? Was he black himself? Was d’Artagnan more of a villain than a hero? Did he fight Cyrano de Bergerac? Are the publishers of Dumas’s works guilty of literary fraud? And finally, and most importantly, is the “Three Musketeers” candy bar actually made out of musketeers? If these questions have got you tossing and turning all night – get fast, fast relief with this one weird video!


Why They Wrote Such Good Books

[cross-posted at POT and Facebook]

I’ve just finished up my seminar (the teaching portion, not the grading portion – oh, not remotely the grading portion!) on Nietzsche and Modern Literature, where along with various readings from Nietzsche we also read works by Thomas Mann, André Gide, D. H. Lawrence, and Ayn Rand. I created an “audiovisual companion” website for the course to illustrate the various people, places, and works of art and music that are discussed by all five authors; and I’m posting the link to it here in case my broader readership is also interested.

As many of my readers are likely to have a particular interest in Rand, I’ll note that the pages where I discuss Rand are Weeks 9-14. See the four “horse tamer” statues that Rand describes at the beginning of Part II of We the Living! Hear the “John Gray” song (misidentified by Michael Berliner) that pervaded the streets of Kira’s Petrograd! See the theatres that Kira attended with Andrei, and the restaurant where they ate! Hear clips from the Kálmán operetta that inspired her, and the swingtime version of Wagner’s “Evening Star” that Gail Wynand suffered through during his late-night walk through the streets of New York! See the real-life models for Leo Kovalensky, Essie Twomey, Ellsworth Toohey, Lois Cook, Lancelot Clokey, Dominique Francon, Henry Cameron, Ralston Holcombe, and Austen Heller – as well as the real-life models for the buildings of Roark and Cameron, the coffee shop where Peter says goodbye to Katie, and much much more!

And check out similar sights and sounds for the works of Mann (Weeks 1-4), Gide (Weeks 4-5), Lawrence (Weeks 5-9), and of course Nietzsche (passim).


A League of His Own

I’ve watched the Snyder Cut. I’m neither a Snyder superfan nor a Snyder hater, so I went in prepared for it to be either better or worse than the Whedon-Snyder hybrid version, though obviously I was hoping for better. And better indeed it is; I enjoyed it much more. To be sure, each has elements I liked that the other lacks; still, the tone of the Snyder version is much less uneven than that of the hybrid, as one would expect.

Comparisons between the Whedon and Snyder versions are sometimes surprising, though; a lot of humour one might have thought was Whedon turns out to be Snyder (though of course a lot also doesn’t), and one major montagey scene that looked like pure vintage Snyder turned out to be Whedon.

A lot of people are rolling their eyes about the four-hour runtime, but I greatly preferred the measured pace and slow burn that gives the story and characters more time to breathe. In particular, Cyborg, Cyborg’s father, and the Flash get a lot more to do. Also, although Snyder continues to operate better at the “moment” level than at the “scene” level (to quote one perceptive YouTube analyst I can’t seem to find now), that vice is less in evidence when he’s allowed more time.

Plus: in this era where people demand to bingewatch an entire season it’s a bit odd to complain about a movie’s length, especially since it’s online rather than in a theatre so you can pause whenever you like, and in any case Snyder has broken the movie into six chapters so you can treat it as a six-episode miniseries and watch one episode at a time if you’re so inclined.

The “Knightmare” flashforwards in this movie finally make sense of the earlier ones in Batman v. Superman; if you put them all together you get a fairly clear picture of what happens in the future that Barry wants Bruce to avert.

Not everything is better in the Snyder cut. I like Whedon’s Steppenwolf better (Snyder admittedly gives him better motivations and backstory, but the Whedon version gives him more personality and more menace). Wonder Woman’s now-familiar theme music gets used only once; instead there’s a new Wonder Woman leitmotiv that, while I like it, I’ve gotta say is overused. And a couple of her new scenes make no sense (I won’t go into details, because spoilers). The Snyder version also asks us to believe that one of the villains just forgot the location of the thing he desires most in life. Snyder’s ending to the Lois/Martha scene completely undercuts it; one of the new characters is just shoehorned awkwardly in; and I’m not crazy about the aspect ratio (which I gather Snyder chose mainly in the hope of future IMAX showings).

And in both versions, the Apokoliptians all look like rough-hewn CGI video game monsters rather than actual characters. That can only make things difficult for the upcoming New Gods movie, at least if that’s supposed to be in continuity with the earlier movies – though the likewise upcoming Flash movie may hand DC a get-out-of-continuity-free card.

One final note: in the hybrid version, the narration over the flashback scene of hiding the motherboxes seems to be a direct homage to the opening of Fellowship of the Ring; if you were wondering whether that was Snyder’s idea or Whedon’s, lo, it was Whedon’s – the Snyder narration is much less Fellowship-y. Though of course the idea of three major peoples each receiving a perilous magical gifty remains.


Learning MacLeod’s World

In my latest YouTube interview, I chat with science fiction author Ken MacLeod about Scottish space opera, libertarianism and Marxism, individualist anarchism, the Austrian calculation debate, Neoreaction, Brexit, Scottish independence, paternalism and anti-vaping laws, James Hutton and deep time, the Scottish Enlightenment, what he owes to David Friedman, what he owes to Margaret Thatcher, and that time Charles Darwin changed history by vomiting.


The Saga of David Friedman

Here’s a New Year’s Day (well, as things turned out, a day-after-New-Year’s-Day) treat for you Agoric Fanatics: a fascinating interview with economist and legal scholar David Friedman.

Topics covered include: free-market anarchism; the Society for Creative Anachronism; tectonic geology; the quasi-anarchic legal systems of medieval Iceland and 18th-century England; being converted to anarchism by Robert Heinlein; how getting a Ph.D. in physics led to being an economist at a law school; the joys of fomenting war and exploiting one’s students; how he repeatedly achieved promotion through violence against his predecessors; how to make medieval armor both for humans and for turnips; how innovations in fireplace design facilitated adultery; and the perils of central planning for wizards.

I also experimented with a new (for me) audiovisual thingie starting around 5:45 – check it out!


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